Best of the Week
Most Popular
1.The Greatest Stock Market Crash Of Your Life Is Just Ahead… – Warns Harry Dent - GoldCore
2.Budget 2016: Borrowing, Lifetime ISA, House Prices, Economy, Syria, Brexit and Stocks - Nadeem_Walayat
3.Gold Price Intermediate Top - Clive_Maund
4.Brussels Terror Attacks, Death of the European Union, BrExit Wake up Call - Nadeem_Walayat
5.Stock Market Maybe This Time is Different? - Tony_Caldaro
6.UK House Asking Prices Break Above £300k! Housing Market Paralysis - Nadeem_Walayat
7.A Big Reason Why Silver Price Is Set To Soar - Hubert_Moolman
8.The Financial Crisis Has Just Begun; Is The American Dream Is Over? - Chris_Vermeulen
9.Gold Stocks Spring Rally - Zeal_LLC
10.GLX, GLDX, Baby Gold Bull Market Stillborn? - Rambus_Chartology
Last 7 days
When the Truth is Found to be Lies, Confidence in Currency Dies - 2nd May 16
How Brexit Could Help All of Europe - 2nd May 16
US House Prices Outpacing Official Inflation Rate, Household Income - 2nd May 16
USD Still Declining... - 2nd May 16
Gold & Silver Rally Huge as Central Bankers & Analysts Flub - 2nd May 16
Stock Market Bounce Day - 2nd May 16
Stock Market Uncertainty Following Two-Month Long Rally - Will It Continue? - 2nd May 16
Stock Market Correction Underway "Upside Objective Reached" - 2nd May 16
USD, Yen and an ‘Inflation Trade’ Update - 2nd May 16
Gold Commitments of Traders and More - 1st May 16
The Magic of Gold Ratio Charts - 1st May 16
Consensus Forming: China Heading Back Into Financial Crisis - 30th Apr 16
The Next Technical Price Targets for Gold & Silver - 30th Apr 16
Stock Market Downtrend Should be Underway - 30th Apr 16
Gold And Silver – A Clarion Alarm Call For All Paper Assets - 30th Apr 16
US Economic Statistics LIES, LIES AND OMG, MORE LIES - 30th Apr 16
Stock Market Strong Elliott Wave Relationship is Developing - 29th Apr 16
Fed's Kaplan: Brexit to Factor in US June Interest Rate Decision - 29th Apr 16
Silver Miners Strong in Grim Q4 - 29th Apr 16
Is Silver a better bet than Gold in the Near Future? - 29th Apr 16
How to Use the CoT Report in Gold Investing? - 29th Apr 16
Sri Lanka is Intriguing: Areas to Consider for Value Investing - 29th Apr 16
Gold “Chart of The Decade” – Maths Suggest $10,000 Per Ounce Says Rickards - 29th Apr 16
Are We or Are We Not in a New Gold Bull Market? - 29th Apr 16
Silver: The “Five Year Plan” and the Great Leap Forward - 28th Apr 16
Michael Hudson: The Wall Street Economy Has Taken Over The Economy and Is Draining It! - 28th Apr 16
AUD/USD - Trend Reversal or Just a Bigger Pullback? - 28th Apr 16
A Gold Revaluation Could Transform Your Financial Status - Overnight - 28th Apr 16
Monetary Policies Misunderstood - 28th Apr 16
Gold Bullion vs Gold Miners - 28th Apr 16
OECD Suggests BrExit Would Cut Net Migration by 1.2 Million by 2030 - 28th Apr 16
MP Naz Shah Punished for Tweets Made During Israel's Genocide of Gaza Palestinian People - 28th Apr 16
Global Recession in 2016 and Beyond - The Obvious Evidence - 27th Apr 16
Why Gold Bugs Need to Stop Listening to The Fear Mongers and Start Thinking for a Change - 27th Apr 16
BlackRock’s Fink: Fed to Raise Interest Rates by Quarter Point ‘at Best’ - 27th Apr 16
Gold More Productive Than Cash?! - 27th Apr 16
Donald Trump Will Fire Janet Yellen and Be Trapped - 27th Apr 16
Money Saving Gardening by Propagating Roses From Cuttings - Propagating Rose Plants Over 2.5 Years - 27th Apr 16
Facebook Censors Pro Trump and Negative Hillary News - 27th Apr 16
This is the Era of the Democrats and Your Taxes are Going Up - 27th Apr 16
Long Awaited Gold Price Breakout - 26th Apr 16
Crude Oil Price Double Top or Further Rally? - 26th Apr 16
Madness in the Crimex Gold and Silver Trading Pits - 26th Apr 16
Britain's Prospects: GBP and BREXIT - MAP Wave Analysis - 26th Apr 16
CRB, Gold, Oil, Cotton, Coffee - 7 Must See Commodities Charts - 26th Apr 16

Free Instant Analysis

Free Instant Technical Analysis


Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

Catching a Falling Financial Knife

The Solar Energy Tipping Point, Polysilicon Prices in 2012

Commodities / Solar Energy Nov 27, 2012 - 03:37 AM GMT

By: Investment_U

Commodities

David Fessler writes: Solar energy detractors point to the fact that it can’t compete without “huge” government subsidies. And up until now, I couldn’t argue to the contrary.

But very soon, those detractors will likely be eating their words. I’ve said it many times in the past: Technology marches on, and the cost of manufacturing will come down.


Well the cost of manufacturing solar isn’t just coming down; it’s dropping through the floor. By the end of this year, solar will be so cheap it will compete with just about any other form of generation. It already does in some places, and at commercial scale levels. The best part? It will do it without subsidies.

You see, solar panel prices are about to cross a tipping point. It’s all due to the drop in price of a solar module’s most crucial ingredient: polysilicon.

The Polysilicon House of Cards

Polysilicon prices have collapsed 90% in the last five years. That translates directly into lower module costs, lower panel prices and ultimately into a lower installed cost per watt.

How did this happen? Way back in 2006, there was a run on polysilicon. It turns out it’s the same material used to make integrated circuits. But all of a sudden, the solar industry was booming, and competing for what was then a limited supply.

Its use for solar was rising rapidly, and 2006 was the first year that 50% of all polysilicon went into the manufacture of modules for solar panels. And panel manufacturers were clamoring for even more.

Polysilicon makers were laughing all the way to the bank, and then some. They essentially were an oligopoly, and were earning upwards of 40% margins on their product, according to a recent research report published by GTM Research.

Prices just kept rising along with demand, and by 2008 the shortage was so severe, polysilicon was selling for over $400 per kilogram on the spot market. Margins had risen to 70%.

Naturally, this lured new players into the market, and led existing makers to expand manufacturing capacity. But they overestimated how much was really going to be needed.

By 2011, much of this additional capacity began to come online, and polysilicon prices started falling. By March of 2011, the spot price had dropped to $80 per kilogram, and by this past December, it was all the way down to $30 per kilo.

This incredibly low spot price was all the leverage customers with long-term contracts needed to renegotiate lower prices.

GTM Research predicts that in 2012, these declining silicon prices will lead to even lower module prices. At the beginning of 2011, module prices were $1.80 per watt. By the end of 2011, they were halved to $0.90 per watt.

Closing in on Grid Parity

This year, GTM expects module prices to breach the $0.70-per-watt barrier and continue to head south. Of course, with other manufacturing costs and installation being relatively fixed, lower raw material means lower panel prices. And $0.70 per watt is below the magic $1.00-per-watt level that’s widely viewed as “grid parity” for solar.

That’s the point where it makes just as much sense to use solar as any other form of generation.

The system I installed at my farm is 10.08 kilowatts (KW). Over its 25-year lifetime, it’s expected to produce an average of 12,000 to 18,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year.

I’m leasing my system for five years, and will then purchase it. My total all-in cost is about $27,000. (Since I’m leasing the system, I don’t receive any government subsidies or tax breaks.)

Let’s assume that the system produces the minimum amount per year, 12,000 kWh.

Multiplying by 25 and then dividing by the cost of the system, we come up with $0.08 per kWh. My current electricity from the grid operator costs $0.14 per kWh.

That’s almost a 50% savings. If I produce even more, my savings will be even higher.

And this system has panels that were manufactured in 2011. Panels made this year will be even cheaper, and so will the all-in cost.

Misinformation and Black Eyes

So what’s keeping solar from being widely adopted? Lack of information, for one…

The industry got quite a black eye over the Solyndra deal.

GTM Research Senior Analyst, Brett Prior, believes the industry will continue to grow at 10% to 20% per year for the foreseeable future. He had this to say about the polysilicon market today:

“After a half-decade of silicon demand outstripping supply, the aggressive expansion plans finally overshot.

“This supply/demand imbalance will push producers to lower contract prices closer to the level of manufacturing costs at $20 per kilogram, and will force higher-cost manufacturers to exit the industry.

“The end result is that the current roster of over 170 polysilicon manufacturers and startups will likely be winnowed down to a dozen survivors by the end of decade.”

I believe that as prices continue to drop, solar will continue to gain in popularity.

Big panel manufacturers like U.S.-based SunPower Corporation (Nasdaq: SPWR) will be around when the dust settles. They currently make the most efficient (19%) commercially available panels in the world. The stock is way off its highs of a year ago, but is up a healthy 22% since the beginning of the year.

So is it solar boom time? I don’t have a crystal ball, but with module prices continuing to drop, it becomes more attractive every day. That’s good news for panel manufacturers, as they’ll continue to improve as volumes ramp up. Investors certainly won’t find them any cheaper than they are right now.

Source: http://www.investmentu.com/2012/January/polysilicon-green-energy.html

by David Fessler, Advisory Panelist, Investment U

http://www.investmentu.com

Copyright © 1999 - 2012 by The Oxford Club, L.L.C All Rights Reserved. Protected by copyright laws of the United States and international treaties. Any reproduction, copying, or redistribution (electronic or otherwise, including on the world wide web), of content from this website, in whole or in part, is strictly prohibited without the express written permission of Investment U, Attn: Member Services , 105 West Monument Street, Baltimore, MD 21201 Email: CustomerService@InvestmentU.com

Disclaimer: Investment U Disclaimer: Nothing published by Investment U should be considered personalized investment advice. Although our employees may answer your general customer service questions, they are not licensed under securities laws to address your particular investment situation. No communication by our employees to you should be deemed as personalized investment advice. We expressly forbid our writers from having a financial interest in any security recommended to our readers. All of our employees and agents must wait 24 hours after on-line publication or 72 hours after the mailing of printed-only publication prior to following an initial recommendation. Any investments recommended by Investment U should be made only after consulting with your investment advisor and only after reviewing the prospectus or financial statements of the company.

Investment U Archive

© 2005-2016 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

Catching a Falling Financial Knife